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Teachers reach tentative contract with province

Public high school teachers have reached a tentative three-year contract with the province, bringing an end to almost a year of negotiations with the government over education funding. A ratification vote is to be held in May.

Strike action escalated this fall as The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) teachers and education workers engaged in job action, and staged province-wide and rotating strikes between December and February.

Public attention refocused to the COVID-19 pandemic and all publicly-funded schools were closed to prevent the spread of the virus. Schools were scheduled to reopen May 4, but Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the closures would be extended.

“These are extraordinary times,” said OSSTF President Harvey Bischof. “When we began negotiations nearly a year ago, nobody could have anticipated the situation we face today.”

“While this tentative agreement does not satisfy all of our concerns, we recognize the current environment we are in and the need for students to have stability once this emergency is over,” Bischof said in a news release.

“Even now, educators continue to do their best for students during this crisis and look forward to welcoming them back to the face-to-face support we know is best for most students.”

The union said, however, it managed to push the government from “some of its most egregious proposals,” including class sizes and mandatory e-learning.

Student-to-teacher ratio changed from 28:1 to 23:1, and e-learning requirements are now at two, from four, mandatory courses.

The union agreed to the government’s one per cent per year increase for the three year deal. The province imposed the one per cent on public sector employees through legislation.

Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, was pleased deals have now been reached with all four education unions in the province.

“We will remain focused on the government’s dual priority of keeping students safe while ensuring the continuity of education,” he said in a news release. “Moreover, we remain determined to continuously strengthen teacher-led learning and virtual learning for the benefit of our students, and we continue to look to our educators to rise to the challenge and deliver quality education to every child, wherever they may live.”

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  1. Mark says:

    Good for the government sticking to the 1% wage increase.

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